Rob Iracane: April 2010 Archives

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Bud Selig's Super Special Offseason Panel of Everyone But Players and Umpires had some ideas about improving the All Star Game, and the higher-ups at MLB have listened! Starting this summer in Anaheim, the following four progressive changes will be made to the Midseason Classic:

  • Starting pitchers who pitch the prior Sunday will be dismissed from the team and replaced

  • If a player gets injured mid-game, the manager can replace him with any designated positional player

  • The designated hitter rule will be used in every game, not just those in AL cities

  • Roster expansion! Teams will now carry 21 position players and 13 pitchers, up one from last year

The first two get a big fat "meh" out of me, so let's focus on the last two instead. Carrying the DH rule over to National League parks during an exhibition game may seem like an inconsequential change right now, but what does that move portend for the future? Perhaps this is just the first step to introducing the DH to every World Series game, or to take it one step further, maybe this means that the DH rule may soon be used during the regular season in the National League.

I'm ready now to have both leagues use the same darn rules, and letting NL teams utilize the DH not only increases the job prospects for aging stars like your Barry Bondses and Carlos Delgadi, but it might level the playing field that has recently made the AL the far more dominant league. Having the DH available in an All Star Game won't force the managers to pinch hit for pitchers constantly but it might foretell a sea change in the entire game.

As for roster expansion, the advantage I see to having more players qualify for the All Star Game is a cheapening of the honor. Why is that an advantage? Because if certain baseball writers consider expanded rosters to cheapen an All Star appearance, perhaps they won't use appearances (or lack thereof) as a crutch anymore when evaluating a player's Hall of Fame qualifications.

It makes no sense for a writer to use All Star Game votes when considering a players' entry into Cooperstown; we fans are the ones who vote players in or keep them out, and we don't always use the best statistical measures to evaluate those votes. Nor should we! It's a fun exhibition and we should want to choose our favorite players. Baseball writers shouldn't lean on those votes for Hall of Fame-worthiness, and with All Star Game rosters a full six players larger than they were just a few years ago, maybe they won't anymore.

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Kansas City Royals star and reigning American League Cy Young winner Zack Greinke just completed a stellar month of April in which he held hitters to a .239 batting average, struck out 27 dudes in 31 innings, and posted a tidy 2.56 ERA. Only problem? Fella's winless because both his run support (three runs per game) and bullpen support (relievers' ERA in Zack's starts is over 15.00) is non-existent.

Meanwhile, across the great divide, San Francisco Giants stud and reigning National League Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum outdid his counterpart by holding hitters to a .181 average, striking out 43 guys in 35 innings, and delivering a microscopic 1.27 ERA. Thanks to unusually high run support (six runs per game) and, until yesterday, typical bullpen help, Lincecum finished the month with four wins against zero losses.

Now, small sample sizes aside, it's fair to say both of these guys are performing at the top of their games. Both do well in striking out many, walking few, and minimizing tater tots. But what chance does Greinke have to repeat his Cy Young win in 2010 if his Royals teammates continue to piss on his pitchers mound every five days? After both guys won top honors last year with win totals in the teens, displaying a sea change among voters away from traditional stats and towards sabermetric stats, could 2010 be the first year a starting pitcher wins the Cy Young with a losing record?

In a word: probablynotthatseemshighlyunlikely. Greinke's numbers, while typical for an ace, have fallen somewhat since last year. His home run rate has doubled from 0.43 per 9 to 0.85 per 9 while his K rate has fallen by almost two per nine innings. Hitters are making more contact at pitches in and out of the strike zone this year. His odds of winning games 1-0 or 2-1 this year are slimmer. Chances are we'll be debating Frenchy Liriano, CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez at the end of the season for top AL honors. Only time will tell if Greinke can keep his name in the discussion.

Tonight's Question

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Seriously, even the Mets fans are shocked that the number one most hated team in the Americas isn't the Yanks. Shouldn't we be focusing our pity on the Cleve and not our disdain? I, for one, am beginning to focus my negative energy away from the Mets onto the Dodgers, mostly because the McCourts are scumbags and Ned Colletti is a total jackass.

Putting hatred aside, let's all enjoy this evening's slate of games, including a nationally-televised Twins-Tigers romp on ESPN. See you tomorrow, same WoW channel.

As per Hardball Talk's Aaron Gleeman's many, many sources, the higher-ups at MLB advanced media are cracking down on their columnist's usage of Twitter. Allegedly, the beat writers within the iron curtain on MLB.com are being told that they are to tweet ONLY about baseball-related topics, while some players who tweet are being tut-tutted for their more controversial tweets.

Granted, not every MLB.com beat writer is as interesting as Blue Jays beat guy Jordan Bastian. Some of them are real snoozes with terrible taste in culture and nobody will care that they're getting muzzled. But really, Twitter is not supposed to be just a vehicle for press releases and play-by-play. MLB should be encouraging their writers to punch up their feeds with the occasional joke or thought or music recommendation just as long as the missives are not offensive.

Part of this may be a reaction to the Mike Bacsik affair in which the former big league pitcher and current squawk radio host saluted the proud Latino population of San Antonio, or, more recently, A's pitcher Brad Ziegler gettin' all political up in Twitter:


Ziegler was expressing his thoughts on the boycott of the Diamondbacks by opponents of Arizona's wacky new immigration law, and he's welcome to his opinion, no matter how non-committal it is. Ziegler seems to be avoiding the controversy well by not taking sides, and after all, the whole ordeal is technically baseball-related anyway. I'm looking forward to seeing what Ziegler says next but I can only imagine it won't be anything political.

Worst of all, this throws the proverbial wrench into our newest feature, This Tweet In Baseball, which draws his humor from idiotic comments spewed out by players and, on the rare occasion, beat writers. If these folks are being watched closely by Big Brother Bud, will we ever get to read nonsensical blatherings like this ever again?

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The World F'in Champion New York F'in Yankees visited the F'in White House yesterday, as is the custom for a team that wins the World F'in Series. Just this past weekend, I was in Washington D.C. and a bit disoriented, so I asked a man on the street, "How does one get to the White House?" He replied, "Face an overmatched Phillies team that has only one good starting pitcher, a shaky closer, and a lefty-stacked lineup". Zing to you, stranger.

Our gracious leader Barack Obama, a dyed-in-the-wool White Sox supporter, was indeed a gentleman and did not do something nefarious like Gillooly-ing Mariano Rivera's knee. Instead, he saluted the special individuals on the team, specifically Mark Teixeira, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Joe Girardi, for their superior play and charitable work off the field.

But alas! No mention of Steroid Sweetheart Alex Rodriguez! Quel shockeur! Leave it to 'Duk to put it all in proper perspective:

But Obama also didn't mention players like CC Sabathia, Andy Pettite, A.J. Burnett or the not-in-attendance Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon and they all played instrumental roles in the Yankees' 27th World Series title, too. Heck, he didn't even mention George Steinbrenner by name or say anything about Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle or Joe DiMaggio. If you listen to the speech, it's obvious that the president was running off a tightly-written script and not running down a checklist of great names from the Bronx.

Yanks beat writer "Handsome" Mark Feinsand was in the house and shared this nugget.

There were some light-hearted moments as well. As the President posed for a photo with the World Series trophy, Jean Afterman - the Yankees' assistant GM - barked out, "Let him hold it; he may not get a chance again."

The room roared with laughter, but Obama came back with a quick reply. "And you wonder why the other teams don't root for you," Obama said with a smile.

Asked about Obama's anti-Yankee remark, Jeter joked, "He better be careful. There are a lot of Yankee fans that vote."

It's true, Yankees fans do vote, but mostly it's to ensure that Kevin Youkilis never starts an All-Star game again.

Whomever thought it was a good idea to set up a professional baseball player with a Twitter account deserves our praise and our scorn. We get an equal amount of laughs and groans from this 140-character missives; let's dive headfirst into the miasma and see what the players and other personalities around the baseballtweetosphere have been chatting about lately.

Of course, it's not only baseball players who struggle with the concept of Twitter. Instantly updating your status without proofreading first can get broadcasters and former general managers in trouble, too. Here's the man who salted the fields of the Reds and the Nationals for years to come, XM Radio's own Jim Bowden, congratulating a certain Cleveland Indian slugger for his big week:


White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen is just like you or me! Even a fancy man like Oz has to sit around his condo waiting for the awful cable company to show up between the hours of 8AM and 3PM, and then spend the entire time twooting about how much he hates Comcast.


Former big league slugger and best-selling author Jose Canseco has been notoriously outspoken in the Tweet-o-sphere but this past week, Jose really went off the reservation. Seriously, if you don't follow Jose, take a gander at the brain droppings of a demented man with a 65 I.Q. It's like taking a peek into the mind of insanity:


Official recording secretary of the Marlins God Squad Chris Coghlan and his buddies were wowed and totally awed by the big city of Houston. Even the taxis are bigger in Texas! All praises be to our lord and savior Jesus the taxi driver!


Speaking of big cities, Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson had an off-day in NYC after getting walloped by the Yanks so he decided to do what any yokel or Midwestern hausfrau would:


Washington Nationals mascot and nightmare fuel inducer Screech the Eagle is having a birthday party this weekend at Nats Park and is hosting ten of his closest mascot friends to celebrate! Of course, just like in elementary school, sometimes the loser kid in the class doesn't get invited:


Angels right fielder Bobby Abreu may have gotten off to a slow start but at least he (or whoever has been hired to compose his tweets) is funny and self-deprecating about the whole sitch. He's like the Venezuelan baseball player version of Jerry Steinfeld:


And finally, here is your official David Price Sphinxian riddle of the week:


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The Cleveland Indians are just one of the many MLB teams suffering from low attendance numbers early in the 2010 campaign but a twenty-first century initiative may help boost the turnstile numbers. They've gone and built the "Tribe Social Deck" out by the bleachers at Progressive Field and have begun inviting local bloggers and Twitter superusers to sit, free-of-charge, and promote the team through the magic of the Internet. There is advertorial power in them there tubes!

As per Sports Business Daily:

The 10-seat section in the ballpark bleachers is being occupied each game by bloggers and other social media users and influencers with the aim of furthering the Indians' roots within social media channels. The free section, part of the Time Warner Cable-sponsored bleacher area and outfitted with wireless Internet access and a TV, is currently being used on an invitation-only basis.

What does this all mean? As the best parts of the burgeoning baseball blogosphere get closer to the mainstream media-occupied press box, yet another part is being courted by the teams themselves. The super-fan-blogger with a massive following on the Internet is worth his weight in Cheetos, and if a mid-level team like the Indians can harness this energy for their own good, then they'd be stupid not to do it.

Scott from the Cleveland sports blog Waiting For Next Year was invited to watch the Indians home opener from the Tribe Social Deck and shared his mostly positive experience, but noted some important drawbacks:

One complaint that may be heard from others that attended the Social Deck is the lack of mobile connectivity. While this may not be a problem in subsequent games due to attendance figures, the home opener provided next to zero mobile signal, making use of social media relatively difficult. Long term, the team plans on providing exclusive Wi-Fi access to the 10 individuals on the deck - something that they will be able to do through Time Warner via their sponsorship of the area.

Great job, Cleveland. You promote a blogger box with all sorts of access and then you ghettoize some nerds on a deck without actually activating the Wi-Fi. On Opening Day, no less. But what else can one expect from a terrible communications company like Time Warner Cable?

(via Senor Calcaterra's Hardball Talk Concern)

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Time flies when you're having good baseball. Did you realize that we fans can already register our opinions for the Midseason Classic at MLB.com? Yes,just two weeks into the regular season, All Star Game voting is LIVE and ready for you to lend your support to that guy who has seven home runs or some fella with good fortune and a lucky bat.

But why should we reward players having a hot start? Or, for that matter, why should we even reward players who had a good 2009 season? Why even bother looking at stats, whether they be basic, McCarverian statistics or more advanced ones that require a semester of differential equations to comprehend? Screw stats!

Our advice this year: vote for your favorite players. Ignore the stats, and not just the first two weeks or two months or however long has elapsed by the time you get around to registering your allotted 25 electronic ballots. Ignore past performances, future possibilities, and extended stays on the disabled list. Even retirements! If you love someone who just recently hung up his spikes, write his name in anyway!

Do you love to see David Ortiz lolling around in the A.L. dugout, spitting sunflower seeds at Derek Jeter and being generally affable? Then throw your votes at him, slow start be damned! Wonder how Nyjer Morgan would dazzle the crowd in Anaheim this summer? Then round up your D.C. area pals to stuff those ballot boxes. It's that simple. Wanna be a smartass? Tick off Mike Jacobs at first base in the N.L. Imagine the sad Mets meme possibilities!

So, dear reader, we implore you to take joy into account when voting for All Stars. It makes no sense to vote for Ichiro year in and year out just because conventional wisdom dictates it. Dude's had his run so let's bring in some new favorites. I think Eric Patterson is ready for his closeup.

(thanks to Tango for the heads up)

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Sure, it's still early in the long haul that is a baseball season, but your Boston Red Sox have but four wins against eight losses and possess the fourth worst record in the majors. They have lost three straight home games against their rival Rays, have suffered a poor start from their spiritual power leader and lithe young ace, both of their centerfielders are creampuff'd, and they have forced the Curly Haired Boyfriend to gnash his teeth far earlier than usual. Times are tough in the Hub.

But alas and alack for us Yankees and Rays fans: this is the smallest of sample sizes and we have a seemingly interminable road ahead that will allow the Sox' most slump-y of pieces to regain their normal career arc. Jon Lester will throw 1-2-3 innings. David Ortiz will smack tater tots. J.D. Drew will either collect RBI or get leprosy and lose a limb.

Today is Patriots' Day in Massachusetts; this means that state employees get the day off to make a nuisance of themselves along the Boston Marathon course and cross their fingers that the old tired Red Sox don't get swept in four by the young and vibrant Rays. But even if the Sox fall again, chances are they will rise. After all, they do get 18 games against the Orioles.

In related news, this happened over the weekend. AL EAST UNITY!

Via our pal Meech at The Fightins from a coupla months back come these two clips from "The Baseball World of Joe Garagiola". Joe hosted the show as a pregame for the Monday Night Baseball series on ABC in the 1970s; this episode pitted Brewers legend Kurt Bevacqua and the late great Johnny Oates, then of the Phillies, in a bubblegum-blowing contest.

The good people at Bazooka spent all season finding two worthy competitors, going from clubhouse to clubhouse and challenging players to blow their best. This was not the first time they put up a whopping $1000 for the winner of such a silly contest: be sure to check out former champ Andy Messersmith's fantastic afro in the video below. The end of the video features two retro commercials, so skip those unless you have a hankering for nostalgia.


The actual contest is embedded below. I'd ask you to get excited for the stunning conclusion but watching this is about as exciting as watching grass grow.


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I kid, of course, no matter how high Kyle Kendrick's ERA gets (well over 17 now after his disastrous start against Warshington), his performance could never make a chubby young gent like the one pictured to the left blow chunks all over an innocent young girl. No, the only thing that could make him do such an illicit act is his pure unabated douchiness.

The story begins when Capt. Michael Vangelo, an Easton, PA cop, and his two daughters planned a lovely family outing for Wednesday night's Phillies game versus the Nationals. The family outing turned dark, however, when some unsavory characters seated behind the Vangelos started acting up, perhaps as a result of intoxication from imbibing alcoholic beverages. Quel horreur!

As per NBC Philadelphia:

I had beer thrown on me and water and then one individual started spitting at the back of my daughter's chair and he actually spit on my 11-year-old daughter," Vangelo said.

Vangelo went to report the men to ushers, who promptly ejected them from the game. The man says everything seemed fine until another fan got involved.

That fan -- identified by police as Matthew Clemens -- was sitting with another, unrelated group of fans who were also disciplined for acting out when he allegedly did what Vangelo describes as the "most disgusting thing" he's ever seen.

Clemens, 21, positioned himself behind the 11-year-old's chair, stuck his fingers down his throat and vomited on the girl and her father, police said.

"He leaned forward, he projectile vomited all over me and my daughter," Vangelo said with a look of hurt splashed across his face.

A look of hurt wasn't the only thing splashed across his face, amirite? The story has a happy ending, though:

After all the disruptions and vile acts, the 11-year-old was able to come out of the game with a smile, her father said. A nearby fan caught a foul ball and gave it to the girl.

I hope Capt. Vangelo wiped that ball down before they got home.

Tonight's Questions

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Tune in to the MLB Network tonight at 7PM to see a special pregame ceremony honoring Robinson, one of the greatest baseball players of all time and a truly brave human. Jackie's widow Rachael will be there, and if we're lucky, so will Bill Clinton. Until tomorrow, same WoW channel.

Unlike the beer-and-brat lovers in sunny Milwaukee, the Dodger Stadium parking lot in Chavez Ravine is not a happy-go-lucky spot for casual carousing by baseball lovers. Instead, it is a dark place where tailgating is banned, traffic is constantly snarled, and fights between fans break out at the drop of a hat.

In this amateur video posted to the popular Internet video site "You Tube", witness one such fan get pummeled by stadium security as some fellow Dodgers folks shout obscenities at the guards. The fan refuses to be ejected from the lot and gets kicked, punched, and grabbed until his flip flops fly off.

WARNING! Contains graphic violence and language, and the harsh realities of the horrible urban decay called "Los Angeles"


Stay tuned until the end, when one of the gathered masses shouts the line that amateur security guards and professional policemen dread to hear, "It's going on YouTube!"

(via L.A. Now and the handsome Matt P.)

The MLB season rolls on, but where would we be without the random musings of MLB's most loquacious players in the Tweetosphere? Let's take a look at some of these droll, 140-character missives and maybe have a little fun at the expense of talented millionaires:

Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm made headlines with his recent defensive mastery. Unfortunately, the gents at the WWL couldn't pronounce his name properly when reviewing his Web Gem:


Meanwhile, Rangers starter and crunchy bro C.J. Wilson missed his scheduled start last night because of a little case of food poisoning. Good job by Ron Washington to not let Wilson pitch; the last thing the grounds crew needs is to clean up diarrhea on the mound, right Chan Ho?


Oakland A's submariner Brad Ziegler and a select group of his bros hit up the finest Japanese cuisine in the central business district of Seattle. Nothing beats corporate hibachi! And don't fret, poor Tyson Ross didn't have to empty his pocketbook for all those teriyaki shrimps.


John Baker is totally in awe of the twenty-first century. Technology is moving forward at such a speedy rate now that almost every day, something new and exciting happens. Oh, modern life, will you ever cease to amaze John Baker?


Stud Rays pitcher David Price is wise beyond his years. He's like the ancient Sphinx, challenging his followers with riddles so they can use their minds to solve his enigmatic riddles. Friend, see if you can solve the riddle of the Southpaw Sphinx! (and click here for the dumb answer)


Indians pitcher David Huff has a hankering for sushi, a filthy mind, and abrasively curt comic timing. He's like the Dane Cook of rookie pitchers, except talented.


Veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu may be new to Twitter but he's already got this whole micro-blogging social media thing down. Not only does he entertain and excite his followers by Tweeting what he's eating, he also does it bilingually. El Come Dulce, indeed!


Finally, our favorite curmudgeonly old fart Tommy Lasorda isn't letting the early baseball season interfere with his lucrative speaking schedule, and it's no surprise. I hear the SWAT people put out a great spread of antipasto and cheap red wine. Thatsa spicy curveball! Youknowwhaddahemeans?


Scott Stapp, who I know I'm supposed to hate but couldn't figure out why until Wikipedia told me he was in that horrible band Creed, is a huge Marlins fan. Stapp did the entire world a favor below as he rewrote one of his terrible songs, "You Will Soar", to honor the Fightin' Lorias.

If memory serves me right, Creed was one of those Christian 'rock' bands who refused to pigeonhole themselves as such, but still wrote simplistic three-chord songs about getting lifted up to heaven after the reckoning. Marlins player, Jesus freak, and recurring star of This Tweet in Baseball Chris Coghlan must be enthused.

The poor quality video is embedded below. Please to...enjoy?


And if that isn't enough to shatter your eardrums and make you lose all faith in humanity, watch Stapp 'sing' the National Anthem before the Marlins home opener earlier this week:


(thanks for the link, Matt_T)

Tonight's Quick Question

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  • IS there anything in the world better than a comely young lass, assorted meat products, and the inside of Miller Park?

Didn't think so. Lots of good stuff happened today; B.J. Upton hit two tater tots to support David Price's win over the Orioles, Kosuke Fukudome completed a four-run, 8th inning Cubs rally with the game-winning RBI single over the Brewers, and new Angels closer Fernando Rodney recorded a 1-2-3 save against the bottom of the Yankees lineup.

Get ready for more baseball tonight in your local viewing area, and then come back here tomorrow. Same WoW channel.

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While the national unemployment rate miserably hovers around the ten percent mark in this Xtremest of Depressions, one name stands out among the huddled masses yearning to make bank: professional hitter Jermaine Dye. The thirty-six-year-old Dye clobbered 27 ding-dongs last year as a White Sock and has amassed 325 homers in his 14 year career. His career OPS+ of 111 is no joke and heck, he even won a Gold Glove back during the Clinton administration.

But now, Dye can not obtain gainful employment. He could not agree on a contract with the power-hungry Nationals and his former teammates are desperate to see him back in the game. Dye openly campaigned for a job with the worsening offense out in Seattle, but was dismissed. Even Dye's former manager Ozzie Guillen chimed in on Jermaine's lack of prospects while figuring out where to grab a bite to eat.

And now, most outspoken infielder and elderly gadabout Orlando Hudson has taken it upon himself to connect the Dye dots to racism. Via Yahoo's Jeff Passan:

"You see guys like Jermaine Dye without a job," Minnesota Twins second baseman Orlando Hudson said Monday. "Guy with [27 home runs and 81 RBIs] and can't get a job. Pretty much sums it up right there, no? You've got some guys who miss a year who can come back and get $5, $6 million, and a guy like Jermaine Dye can't get a job. A guy like Gary Sheffield, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, can't get a job. ...

"We both know what it is. You'll get it right. You'll figure it out. I'm not gonna say it because then I'll be in [trouble]."

Calling out owners for being racist is a polarizing subject that not many pro athletes dare touch on, so kudos to Hudson for even broaching the topic. Is he right? Like the existence of collusion, it's not something we can prove easily; what we can prove is this: Jermaine Dye has old person skills and no team really needs someone who is all power and nothing else. Heck, even Corey Patterson can at least play above-average defense.

Even Dye's best skill took a downward turn last season: he slugged an abominably low .297 after the All Star break and collected a career-low 19 doubles for the year.

That doesn't excuse MLB from keeping dudes like Kenny Lofton, Barry Bonds, and Frank Thomas from getting work in their later years. These wildly-popular African-American players had serviceable skills well into their 40s but couldn't find a good-paying job. Shame that Dye's prospects have shriveled up before he even turned 37 but maybe his employment problems don't stem from racism, but rather a limited skill set.

The Naturals, a Royals minor league affiliate located in the armpit of Arkansas, tries to do the right thing for homeless canines by endorsing the "Iams Adoptable Pet of the Game". They parade a dog from a local animal shelter on the field between innings and hope that some broad in the stands oohs and aahs enough to adopt it. During a recent promotion, one of these pups got loose from his handler and decided to return to the field so he could let everyone in the park know just how he felt about the team:


Whoops! In related news, here's some gal showing the world just how obedient her dog is:


(via Flubby's The Sugar Sheet and Big League Stew)

Veteran pitcher Chan Ho Park had a - como si dice? ah yes - shitty Yankees debut last Sunday night in Fenway Park (0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, blown save), but he followed it up with some quality relief innings against the Sox on Wednesday (3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, win). So how to explain such a disparity when he faced the exact same team twice? Huh?

For some answers, we turn to the post-game interview he pooped out for the beat writers in the clubhouse:


Oh, it all makes sense now. I believe this is what the kids are calling an "overshare" nowadays.

(via Can't Stop the Indie Rock Bleeding among others)

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Mercury News beat writer Andrew Baggarly was in situ for perhaps the most important event of an otherwise splendid sports weekend: a group interview with baseball's most hated home run king Barry Bonds. Bonds reunited with fellow teammates from the 2000 NL West champion Giants at AT&T Park yesterday and the beat writers were granted a whopping 6 and a half minutes to spend with the deposed slugger. The entire interview transcript is online, but let's focus on the three biggest revelations.

Q: Been swinging a bat?

A: Actually, I went down to Florida to work out with Ryan Howard during the wintertime and coached him a little bit and he's doing very, very well and hasn't said one thing about me yet. (Laughs.) But I love him and I'm glad he's doing well.

Interesting, Bonds worked with one of the most high-profile sluggers in the biz over the winter and we're not finding out about it until today? Why wasn't Meech following RyHo around with a Flip cam and a enormous oversized butterfly net all December long? But most importantly, one can surely sense Bonds' Dangerfieldian frustration that Howard had not given him any credit (until now) for a fast start in 2010 (3 HR, 1.462 OPS).

Later in the interview, when prodded if a job in coaching is in his future, Bonds says that "God gave me a gift and it's nice to let someone else see what God has given to me". So let it be known that Ryan Howard's early season success is an immaculate blessing from above.

Q: What was your reaction to Mark McGwire's steroid admission? (ESPN's Colleen Dominguez wins the question of the day award.)

A: I have a really good friendship with Mark McGwire. I'm proud of him. I have a great relationship through our entire life and career and I'm proud of what he did and I'm happy for him.

Hear that? It's the sound of a million ham-fisted sports columnists pounding away at a million mustard-stained laptops writing "THEN WHY WON'T YOU ADMIT YOU USED STEROIDS TOO, YOU JACKANAPE" a million times over. Seriously, can we, as a species, separate ourselves from the idea that our artificially-enhanced sports heroes need to make the big steroid admission and produce a teary-eyed apology? It's just embarrassing for all parties involved. Especially the parties who demand an apology and then criticize it for not being authentic enough.

I, too, am proud of McGwire, but not for his steroid admission, but rather because his role as hitting coach has inspired Yadier Molina to hit a whopping two home runs in the first week of the season.

In somewhat related news: Marvin Benard admits steroid use OMG!

Q: The Players' Association is preparing a collusion case against MLB. To what extent do you plan to be a part of that case?

A: You know what, I'm sorry brother, this is the first time I heard about this. First time. I'm sorry, brother. I'd help you out but I can't.

This is the nugget I'm most excited about. Don't take my enthusiasm to mean that I think Bonds is lying, but he has most likely shaken his fist at collusion and he is DEFINITELY going to be the star witness of that court case. Can you imagine! Barry Bonds sitting on the witness stand, pointing at Bill Neukom, Brian Sabean and Bud Selig at the defendant's table, and shouting, "Them! It's because of them I had no job!"

And then Zombie Johnnie Cochrane produces a batting helmet that just doesn't fit on Bonds' head, and then Ben Matlock fingers Jeff Loria as the real murderer, and then Columbo comes in and says, "Just one more thing...," and then Lionel Hutz gives out a business card that expands into a sponge. Okay, so maybe my understanding of MLBPA collusion grievances is somewhat less-than-stellar but you get my point: Barry Bonds is going to bust open some heads in front of the arbitration panel. Objection? Overruled.

Bonds also doled out some snoozy answers to pointless questions; my only complaint is that nobody asked him if he felt the need to pop Jeff Kent right in the kisser.

Back in the 1960s, the Dodgers decided to embrace their new home by staging charity baseball games against famous Hollywood celebrities led by crooner and notorious sot Dean Martin. The event continues to this day, but they switched to softball and moved in the fences once marys like Rob Schneider and Carlos Mencia started participating.

This one, I believe, is the 1965 edition, since Yogi Berra appears in a Mets uniform. Hey, we're all allowed to make little mistakes in life, right? The short clip features such silver screen stars as Phil Silvers, Mickey Rooney, Milton Berle, and you can also see Phyllis Diller french-kissing Dodgers manager Walter Alston in the dugout.


After the game, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale paired off with Nancy Sinatra and Annette Funicello in Drysdale's Cadillac for some canoodling, while famed midget and Gold Diggers of 1933 star Billy Barty hid in the glovebox.

Below, here's a clip from an earlier game where the Dodgers couldn't even be bothered to show up so they sent the sportswriters in their place. That's like being promised a Frank Sinatra concert and getting an Andy Williams concert instead. Yecch.


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Paul Nemeth is many things: a White Sox fan, an emergency room doctor, a father, and most importantly, someone who doesn't appreciate folks knocking boots in a mens room stall on Opening Day:

On Monday, Nemeth's son had to go, and his father took him to the nearest restroom. They stood in line for the first urinal next to a row of stalls. As they waited, Nemeth said, he noticed noises coming from the last stall. A man's legs -- clad in blue jeans and sneakers -- were sticking out from under the stall door.

"The toes were pointing up," said Nemeth. "The legs were shaking and quivering. From a visual standpoint, all you had to see was the legs quivering to know something was going on."

As a trained physician, he had an idea what was happening in there, but he worried it might have been something else.

"It was bizarre. It caught the attention of a lot of people. I tried to turn my boy's attention away from it, then I thought, 'Is someone having a seizure?'

"So I kicked the door, just to get a reaction. I just wanted to make sure nobody was dying in there. That's when I heard a woman's voice yell, 'HEY, STOP!' Something was going on and I had interrupted."

The column is too unintentionally hilarious to comment on every bit of it, so please, go read it and have a field day. The headline itself is too sublime: "Sexual hijinks in Sox Park bathroom taint Opening Day". Taint! Bad word choice, writer John Kass!

Kass also seems to think that the Sox will now have undercover cops stationed outside every single mens room in the ballpark to ensure this doesn't happen again. Because, you know, there's nothing else going on in Chicago that needs police manpower.

I will say this much: if I was a proud father bringing my young son to the can at a baseball game and heard this nonsense, my first reaction would be "Okay, kid, let's get out of here and find a different bathroom," not "It sounds like someone's having a very sexy seizure in there! I ought to bang on the door and announce my profession as a doctor and then write a nasty letter to the team and then alert all the newspapers later!"

(awesomely Photoshopped image by our own DMac; link via Craig Calcaterra)

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Former home run king Hank Aaron, last seen around these parts taking a backseat to everybody's awesome grandpa Willie Mays, has gone on the record saying that the damn kids today spend much too much effort swatting home runs and not enough time focusing on the fundamentals, you see?

In an interview with the AP to promote his participation in Atlanta's upcoming Arthritis Walk, Aaron opened up on the bad habits of today's young players:

"I don't think they understand the role of what they need to be doing. I'm not saying all of them, but I think some players need to understand that they're never going to hit 50 home runs or 45 home runs [a year]. They've got to learn how to hit the ball to the opposite field and do the little things to help their ballclub win championships."

Aaron didn't directly address the hovering hullabaloo that is HGH and PEDs and whatnot, but by using the sooper-sekrit codeword "shortcut", he makes his anti-McGwirean stance known:

"No one can tell me that you can consistently hit 60 and 70 homers, because the league is not made that way. This is the big leagues and every team has the best players they can. If you hit 30 home runs, that's fine, but don't think that you will hit 70 home runs because there is no shortcut. Eventually, things are going to catch up with you."

C'mon, Hank, we know what you're getting at. You're not pissed players are trying to hit too many taters, you're ticked off they're taking "shortcuts" to do it. But that's presuming the players back in Hank's era weren't taking shortcuts too, shortcuts like greenies and uppers and goofballs and pick-me-ups. Players will ALWAYS look for shortcuts; if you told Pat Burrell he could legally avoid second base and just run directly from first to third straight over the pitcher's mound, he'd do it.

Besides, who is Hank Aaron to tell me that players can't consistently hit 60 homers? The game is far different today than during his heyday. Parks are smaller, the strike zone shrunk, and the increased steroid testing did nothing to stunt home run rates. Players hit about 30-40% more homers now than they did when Aaron played, so maybe it is possible for someone to consistently hit 60 home runs a season; after all, Aaron average 40+ homers for his career had a nice run with 35 or more homers hit per year! (whoops)

Hammerin' Hank is (almost) the most beloved figure in the game and probably deserves to be free of criticism for his ideas. He's a diplomat, a leader, a teacher, and a gentleman; I just wish he would be cool about the way the game has changed in 40 years and get off the "get off my lawn" soapbox.

Opening Day has come and gone, but we can still relive our favorite baseball players' Tweets in the latest edition of This Tweet in Baseball. Please join me in poking fun at people whose job description certainly does not include social media and/or using spelling and grammar properly:

Texas Rangers middle reliever C.J. Wilson wonders why the good people at Twitter took away his 'verified status', making Twitter users worldwide wonder if, indeed, this is the real C.J. Wilson. Here's a hint: if he's talking about weird health foods and silly extreme sports, you know you've got the right guy. Either way: verified status is for closers, C.J.


Padres slugger Matt Antonelli feels the same way I do about former Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, whose spent the past few days trolling the stands and broadcast booths at Fenway Park. Dude looks like someone's nana.


Marlins sophomore outfielder Chris Coghlan spent the past week getting his Twitter sheep to vote on a new song to play over the PA as he strolls up to the plate to ground out. In a real dick move, he ended up keeping the same one from last year, but the auditioning process was nevertheless quite stringent:


Although Big Papi cannot keep his language safe for children's ears when responding to a-hole reporters in the clubhouse, he keeps it clean when dictating his Tweets and Facebook updates to his personal assistant. David Ortiz is a real team player, hyping the success of his team over his own individual failure to actually collect a hit:


Royals star Billy Butler got a bad haircut so he asked his wife to clean it up with a Flowbee. She really screwed it up, so if you see him walking around looking like it's his first day at Parris Island, you'll know why.


Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda also wanted to neaten up his 'do for Opening Week, but he went to his favorite dago barber in Midtown New York. I do have to agree with Tom, though: Italian barbers are the best. Where else can you get your quiff trimmed, place a bet on a few horse races, and page through the latest issues of Penthouse and Hustler, all in one place?


Marlins catcher John Baker was also in NYC for the week and was very disappointed to find out that his favorite Broadway show was canceled due to an electrical fire down the block. No worries, John took a romantic carriage ride through Central Park with Jorge Cantu instead.


Finally, I know it's not politically correct to poke fun at someone whose first language is not English. I realize that having a laugh at Ozzie Guillen's expense because he made a tiny spelling mistake on a Tweet is probably quite infantile of me. And yes, I get it: I'm just cherry-picking a silly slip-up from an otherwise smart manager to make me look funny. So be it, I couldn't help but laugh:


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Is there anything we bloggers love more than a misspelling on a professional athlete's uniform? No way, we jump on meaningless mistakes like this with fervor, especially when they happen to baseball's favorite punchline of a team. Well, if the "Natinals" letter stitcher got canned last year, he found a new job across the country.

The latest victim of the dreaded sartorial gaffe? The Giants' infielder Eugenio Velez, whose road jersey incorrectly read S-A-N F-R-A-N-C-I-C-S-O during the Giants' 10-4 win over the struggling Astros. San Fran-cic-so? That place doesn't exist! I doubt anyone noticed; his was the only one of 25 players to have letters transposed on the front of his shirt, and half of the population in the greater Houston area can't read above a fifth grade level anyway

"No, no, I didn't know," he told The Associated Press by cell phone from the team bus on the way to the airport. "That's the first I've heard."

"Increible!" the Dominican backup said in Spanish.

Wait, the AP spelled 'incredible' wrong.

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Baseball without food is like square dancing without the Allemande Left. Sure, you can do it, but you'll undoubtedly get that aching feeling that something very important is missing. No worries, we here at Walkoff Walk want nothing more than to help you fill your bellies while you attend your favorite ballparks in 2010. Even better, we want to tell you what new stuff is cookin' and where you can come 'n' git it.

Last year, we barely even skimmed the culinary surface of stadiumfoodeatery. Thanks to the savvy gourmands we call "commenters," we had a great discussion about provolone and beer and whatnot to fill in the cracks. Lucky for us, Scoreboard Gourmet has been on the ballpark concession beat for long enough now that we can enjoy tasty bites here and head over there for the full buffet.

Relax, doddering traditionalists. Nobody is taking your precious hot dogs and peanuts away from the concourses. Enough of your caterwauling about what "real" baseball fans do and do not eat. Baseball is not about staid devotion to the same boring tradition for tradition's sake; it's about expansion! Expansion of leagues, expansion of tastes, and expansion of bellies. How else can you explain these many new delicacies that MLB teams are newly offering?

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Out at CitiField, the Mets and Esca chef Dave Pasternack have introduced a Crab-Cake Sandwich (photo source) to the Catch of the Day stand. Some other new items include Peking Duck Bun, Lasagna Bolognese and an entire stand devoted to gluten-free pudding. Of course.

Down I-95 in Philly, the fans got the chance to vote for a signature hot dog at Citizens Bank Park for the 2010 season. The candidates included The South Philly, an all-beef frank topped with broccoli rabe, spicy roasted peppers and sharp provolone on an Italian roll, The Olde Philadelphia topped with pepper hash, dill pickle and yellow mustard on a poppy-seed roll, and The Citizens Bank Park Summer Hot Dog, topped with cucumbers, pickled onion salsa and ancho pepper sauce on a pretzel roll. Be careful, Philadelphians. You don't have such a great track record with heated hot dog situations.

As so thoroughly dissed by the culinarily-immature Paul Daugherty, the Reds are introducing sushi rolls to the slack-jawed yokels at the Great American Ball Park. Note well that Cincinnatians are now allowed to consume actual raw sushi at baseball parks; only smoked salmon and shitty California rolls will be sold. With today's flash-freezing technology, delicious raw sushi can be flown in anywhere. But I suppose I wouldn't trust Midwesterners to transport said fish from the loading docks outside Dusty Baker's office either.

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Out in Pittsburgh, the fans prefer to indulge on - how do I say this without sounding cruel - heftier concessions, such as the Victory Knot pretzel. The behemoth is accompanied by three different dipping sauces - chipotle honey mustard, sweet cinnamon cream and beer cheese - and is served in an actual pizza box. It weighs approximately as much as your neighbor's Yorkie and contains enough carbs to power a small studio apartment for a week. Don't fret, Pittsburgh is not the only place you can snag the Big F**king Pretzel. Fans in Chicago, Arizona, and Washington can also go wayyy off their diets with the doughy delight.

And if you're at Nationals Park and want a bit more protein to accompany your carbohydrates, try the Chicken and Waffles, one of many new concessions introduced by the Nats in 2010. Chicken and waffles is one of those magical culinary marriages like chocolate and peanut butter, or sardines and whole grain mustard, but this one has quite an interesting backstory. Some nutritional anthropologists trace its origin to the Jazz Age of the 1930s while other go even further to the eighteenth century, when Thomas Jefferson brought a waffle iron back from France. Either way, fried chicken + waffles + cayenne syrup = NOM.

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And then there's Target Field. The new open-air ballpark in Minneapolis had its unofficial debut this past weekend and it's the food that's getting all the raves, not Justin Morneau's new no-iron cotton Dockers. Some of the classic Minnesota State Fair selections include barbecued Turkey Legs, pork-chops-on-a-stick, walleye-on-a-spike, and veggie kabobs. You can get wild rice soup, hamburgers stuffed with braised short rib and smoked gouda cheese, or Tony Oliva's authentic Cuban sandwiches.

If your idea of haute ballpark cuisine is more gastropub and taqueria than broiled meat on sticks, then the two new Traci des Jardins restaurants attached to AT&T Park are for you. In the spot that once housed the upscale Acme Chophouse comes two new San Fran ballpark restos: Public House, with its modern twist on ballpark fare and Mijita, a proper taqueria. Public House also features twenty-four locally-sourced beers on tap while Mijita will have tasting flights among the 60 different tequilas behind the bar.

And with a lineup that features Aubrey Huff batting cleanup, Giants fans will need all the tequila flights they can get their hands on.

Special thanks again to Sara Pepitone at Scoreboard Gourmet. Please add her to your RSS readers and follow her on Twitter!

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Opening Day is officially in the books now with the home teams winning seven games and dropping six. The San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves are riding high in first place; the Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers are "slumping" in last. Here's some things I noticed from Our Favorite Sport's first day:

  • Batting in the five spot, new Milwaukee outfielder and old fart Jim Edmonds went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in three plate appearances with runners in scoring position. This was one of several reasons the gents on the MLB Network spent a good three minutes talking about why Brewers manager Ken Macha is on the hot seat. Someone get Catshirt on the phone.

  • With the bases loaded, one out and the score tied in the bottom of the ninth, Rangers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia kept us from enjoying the shrimp on Opening Day by lofting a lazy fly ball over a drawn-in outfield to win the game. The game's loser, Jason Frasor, walks approximately four batters per nine innings, so Jarrod deserves our scorn for not being a bit more patient.

  • I'd like to see you try to throw a baseball while wearing Kevlar body armor underneath a gaudy red jacket, smartass.

  • Jason Heyward (seen above killing a baseball) has deposited a tidy sum of goodwill into his personal account with a debut game that included said a tater tot and four RBI. Heyward could (and possibly will) finish the year with a less-than-spectacular slugging percentage and more strikeouts than most Braves fans want, but he's already earned the respect and adulation of many an Atlanta supporter already.

  • Speaking of the Braves, Bobby Cox, the team's longtime manager due to retire at the end of the season, was honored before Atlanta's game with the Cubs. After receiving a resounding standing ovation, he posed for photos with opposing skipper Lou Piniella and the game's umpiring crew. That'd be like O.J. Simpson and Fred Goldman posing for a post-trial picture with Judge Lance Ito, which, now that I reconsider that famewhore Ito, very well could have happened.

  • New Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco quietly collected six RBI, becoming just the 14th MLBer to drive in at least that many runs on Opening Day. As per stud commenter NJPAnick, the all-time Opening Day record is seven RBI, held by Brant Alyea (1970) and WoW patron saint Corey Patterson (2003). That's some heady company, Plassy.

  • Mark Buehrle is a man among boys. He probably clinched the 2010 American League Gold Glove Award for pitchers in one fell swoop. (via Dmac)

  • Finally, and most importantly, the 2010 PNC Heist tickets arrived via the good people at FedEx. If you reserved tickets for the event and haven't paid me yet, I will hunt you down and hold your lawn ornaments hostage until you do.

So what was your favoritest part about Opening Day?

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You may think the importance of this game lies somewhere between the season debut of ace Dan Haren and what may be the start of Adrian Gonzalez' curtain call as a Padre. But you'd be wrong. No, today is all about DICK ENBERG returning to the booth to call baseball games once again. Oh, my! Enberg is staying classy by doing the play-by-play on Channel 4 in San Diego. There will be flutes playing and trombones and flowers and (Jon) garlands of fresh herbs. I don't know how to put this but he's kind of a big deal. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Great Odin's raven!

Moving to sunny San Diego in the twilight of his career to live out his days announcing pitching changes and scoring decisions...you'd do the same damn thing if you were 82 years old. Just watch out for earthquakes, Dick!

Oh, this game started an hour ago.

DADSSNAKES
Tony Gwynn, CFConor Jackson, LF
David Eckstein, 2BStephen Drew, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1BJustin Upton, RF
Kyle Blanks, LFAdam LaRoche, 1B
Chase Headley, 3BMark Reynolds, 3B
Will Venable, RFMiguel Montero, C
Nick Hundley, CChris Young, CF
Everth Cabrera, SSKelly Johnson, 2B
Jon Garland, PDanny Haren, P

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It's a very memorable day in Milwaukee! Today marks the first time in baseball history that two teams have started their season with a game featuring pitchers named Yovani and Ubaldo. That is, unless you count 1914's Federal League opener between the Baltimore Terrapins and Brooklyn Tip-Tops that used starting pitchers named Yovani "Twelve Fingered" McGillicuddy and Ubaldo "Happy" Finneran. But nobody ever counts the Federal League.

If the Brewers really do end up losing 90+ games in 2010, you can always look back to today's Opening Day lineup, see the names "Gregg Zaun" and "Jim Edmonds" and wonder why, oh why, did a team so set on contending employ gentlemen who haven't been relevant since the 1990s.

Okay, that was just wrong of me. Gregg Zaun has never been relevant.

By the way, this game started an hour ago but you probably didn't notice. Nor did the thousands upon thousands of drunken Wisconsinites in the stands at Miller Park wondering why the Brewers' mascot no longer slides into an ginormous mug of beer.

ROXUECKERS
Carlos Gonzalez, CFRickie Weeks, 2B
Seth Smith, LFCarlos Gomez, CF
Todd Helton, 1BRyan Braun, LF
Troy Tulowitty, SSPrince Fielder, 1B
Brad Hawpe, RFJim Freakin' Edmonds, RF
Chris Iannetta, CCasey McGehee, 3B
Ian Stewart, 3BGregg Zaun, C
Clint Barmes, 2BAlcides Escobar, SS
Ubaldo Jimenez, PYovani Gallardo, P

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That delicious-looking treat over there is a Primanti Bros "cheesesteakburger" thing, a seemingly-scrumptious sounding sandwich served all over Pittsburgh, including the concession stands at PNC Park. I've had one of these creatures in my life, and let me tell you, it's utter garbage. You'd think that piling french fries and cole slaw on a typical cheeseburger would make one exclaim, "NOM," no? Well you'd be wrong. It tastes like what I'd imagine licking onions off hot pavement tastes like.

But no matter, it's the dawning of a new day in Pittsburgh and those Pirates fans need not rely on their questionable cuisine choices to lift their spirits anymore. Andrew McCutchen is in the Opening Day lineup for the first time ever and a .500 record is not outside the realm of possibility!

And if the .500 record is impossible, then at least Pirates fans secluded in the left field bleachers can just chuck their terrible sandwiches at Manny Ramirez. Win-win!

Here are your lineups for today's Pittsburghian game:

DODGERSBUCS
Rafael Furcal, SSAki Iwamura, 2B
Russell Martin, CAndrew McCutchen, CF
Andre Ethier, RFGarrett Jones, RF
Manny Ramirez, LFRyan Doumit, C
Matt Kemp, CFLastings Milledge, LF
James Loney, 1BJeff Clement, 1B
Casey Blake, 3BAndy LaRoche, 3B
Blake DeWitt, 2BZach Duke, P
Vicente Padilla, PRonny Cedeno, SS

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Don't blame Jerry Tranuel for filling out his lineup card with so many questionable decisions. It's not his fault Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes are sidelined with ouchies or that Tommie Agee retired 35 years ago! So what if the Mets Opening Day lineup ended up being a sad meme on Twitter yesterday? He had to slot Jeff Francoeur somewhere! Might as well be sixth, smack between Daniel Murphy and one of the Mets many terrible catchers.

Also of note: this is a really good pitching matchup in something that can very easily be considered a pitchers park! So really, does Jerry Tranuel need (or even expect) to score more than a handful of runs? No! You win 2-1, you lose 2-1, these things all even out in the end.

Here are your lineups for today's very third game:

UPDATE: I had faulty information. This new lineup fix should be right, and if it's not, blame Brian Costa.

FISHFAIL
Cogz4Christ RFAngel Pagan CF Alex Cora, SS
Cameron Maybin CFLuis Castillo 2B
Hanley Ramirez SSDavid Wright 3B
Sassy Senior 3BJason Bay LF Mike Jacobs, 1B
Danny Uggla 2BDaniel Murphy 1B Jason Bay, LF
Cody Ross LFJeff Francoeur RF Gary Matthews, CF
John Baker CHenry Blanco C Jeff Francoeur, RF
Gaby Sanchez SSAlex Cora SS Rod Barajas, C
Josh Johnson PJohan Santana P

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Hey guys, did you know that the Cardinals' biggest signing of the offseason was not, in fact, the tens of millions of dollars they threw at Matt Holliday, but rather the tens of thousands of dollars they threw at Mark McGwire? Yes, the man who once injected some drugs in his body that may or may not have helped him hit 500-foot home runs is now advising younger hitters how to hit a baseball the opposite way.

Do hitting coaches really matter? I have no idea! And yet the AP finds it necessary to lead off their coverage with Big Mac instead of, you know, ACTUAL COMPETITIVE BASEBALL BEING PLAYED IN CINCINNATI FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SIX MONTHS.

Here are your lineups for today's very next game:

CARDSDUSTYS
Skip Schumaker, 2BChris Dickerson, CF
Brendan Ryan, SSOrlando Cabrera, SS
Albert Pujols, 1BJoey Votto, 1B
Matt Holliday, LFBrandon Phillips, 2B
Colby Rasmus, CFScott Rolen, 3B
Ryan Ludwick, RFJay Bruce, RF
Yadier Molina, CLaynce Nix, LF
David Freese, 3BRamon Hernandez, C
Chris Carpenter, RHPAaron Harang, RHP

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Remember when the very first game of the year was played in Cincinnati? Well, even ignoring the ESPN Sunday Night East Coast Bias Clash of Resplendence, the defending World F'ing Runners Up and the Struggling Strasburgs face off five minutes before the opening pitch out in Ohio. Way to steal Zombie Marge Schott's thunder, President Obama.

Yes, the second most exciting part about this game (after Meech and his minions make their drunken way down Interstate 95 to harass the locals on the Red Porch) is Barack Obama throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Will he bounce the pitch? Or will he connect with 46-year-old Ivan Rodriguez with a 46 MPH strike? TUNE IN TO FIND OUT.

Here are your lineups for today's very first game:

PHILSNATS
Jimmy Rollins, SSNyjer Morgan, CF
Placido Polanco, 3BWillie Harris, RF
Chase Utley, 2BRyan Zimmerman, 3B
Ryan Howard, 1BAdam Dunn, 1B
Jayson Werth, RFJosh Willingham, LF
Raul Ibanez, LFAdam Kennedy, 2B
Shane Victorino, CFIvan Rodriguez, C
Carlos Ruiz, CIan Desmond, SS
Roy Halladay, PJohn Lannan, P



Former Royals reliever par excellence Dan Quisenberry, whose posthumously-published portfolio of poetry is still available for purchase, starred in this Sports Illustrated commercial back in 1986, at the height of his intimidating career. Quiz was one of the top closers of the 1980s (and perhaps all time) yet did not receive the Hall of Fame love from writers that his contemporaries such as Bruce Sutter or (ugh) Goose Gossage did.

A shame, indeed, but nobody can take away the badassery Quiz displayed in this TV ad. And oh, that moustache!

(video link via Eric N. of Pitchers & Poets)

Tonight's Questions

| | Comments (15)
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Hey kids, it's sacrilicious

That's it for today. Unlike the banks under the auspices of the Federal Reserve and your local post office, we'll be open for business tomorrow with Creampuff, Classic TV, and maybe another fun item. Same WoW channel.

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It's the most wonderful time of the year! When baseball writers and bloggers everywhere pretend they have some sort of inside scoop or analytical advantage over the average fan and attempt to wow folks with virtually impossible-to-predict prognostications! And we're no different! We've already taken you through our divisional previews, but now we'd like to foist our playoff and award predictions upon you, kind reader. Please feel free to criticize our outlandish guesses and to share your own outlandish guesses in the comment section.

I just copied that entire paragraph from last year's predictions compendium but be confident: these prognostications are all Brand Spanking New, except for the one where we forecast the Yankees will win the AL East and the Red Sox, the wild card. We could use that, or swap it up, every year and it wouldn't be out of place. Thanks, competitive financial advantage!

Also, we could explain our choices for the postseason awards (like we did last year) but really, there is no more difficult task than projecting not only the performances of individuals but the whims of sportswriters. One year they're rewarding Justin Morneau for coming up to bat with tons of runners on base and the next they're giving awards to pitchers with historically low win totals. So screw it! We're just randomly throwing darts at a Bud Selig photograph like the rest of ya. You really need me to explain why we think Albert Pujols will win MVP?

So, have at it. In the comments, tell us teams that will be better than most people think, or teams that will shit the bed, or player most likely to get suspended for assaulting a racing sausage with a bat. Whatever floats your boat!



Division Winners & Wildcards
ALNL
East Yankees Phillies
Central Tigers Cardinals
West Mariners Rockies
Wild Cards Red Sox Braves
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Playoff Results
ALNL
Division Series Yankees over Tigers
Red Sox over Mariners
Cardinals over Phillies
Braves over Rockies
LCS Yankees over Red Sox Braves over Cardinals
World Series Yankees over Braves in 4
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Postseason Awards
ALNL
Manager of the Year Jim Leyland, DET (posthumous) Dusty Baker, CIN
Cy Young Award Felix Hernandez, SEA Dan Haren, ARI
Most Valuable Player Mark Teixeira, NYY Albert Pujols, STL
Rookie of the Year Wade Davis, TAM Jason Heyward, ATL

After the jump, check out our predictions for each team's record and a link to the written previews for each division. You'll want to bookmark this page so you can come back in September and guffaw at our many missteps. (yet another sentence I copied and pasted!)